Untethered Talent Wants Training

Growth and development opportunities attract talent from diverse educational backgrounds, making learning leaders key players in the recruiting game.

Chief learning officers could soon be even more instrumental to attracting high-potential talent.

Recruiting software company Jobvite’s 2015 Job Seeker Nation Survey found that 35 percent of respondents cited “growth opportunities” as the reason for taking a new job. This was particularly true for respondents in their 30s, of whom 43 percent answered that growth opportunities were the reason for joining a new company.

Fred Goff, president and CEO of recruitment site Jobcase Inc., said candidates’ newfound interest in growth opportunities points to a new environment of do-it-yourself development. He credits it to a breakdown of the employer-employee bond caused by eroding unions, more widely acceptable job-hopping, and the ability to get health insurance without an employer. 

“All of that throws us into free agency world where everyone is responsible for their own development and job,” Goff said.

More online platforms allow organizations to advertise their learning offerings to potential hires. Goff’s company helps place candidates who have job experience but no traditional degree in positions where they can grow their skills. These include freelancers, parents who took time off to raise families and those without a traditional degree or work experience.

For those with more education and experience, job site Glassdoor debuted its On-the-Job Training Finder, a tool that allows companies to emphasize career development opportunities attached to open positions, as part of the White House’s Upskill America summit in April.

Even if organizations don’t show off their development offerings on these kinds of platforms, candidates could still be watching. Jobvite’s study also found that 23 percent of job seekers between ages 18 and 29 and 27 percent of those between ages 30 and 39 use social media to research their potential co-workers skills when deciding whether to take a position.

These skill sleuths are also more educated, as college graduates want on-the-job learning as much as those without degrees. Content performance marketing firm BrightEdge has used this to its recruiting advantage.

“This (transparent learning) is a huge selling point for us when we reach out to passive candidates on college campuses,” saidMichelle Rife, senior director of global talent acquisition at BrightEdge. “Students really appreciate the transparency in our process, and we see it as a big selling point. Many people coming into new jobs are still in learning mode, as they’re coming right out of college.”

Being more transparent about learning opportunities can be challenging, however. Rife said BrightEdge has to live up to the promises it makes candidates, just as new hires are expected to commit to the learning.

But she said even this has benefits to the organization’s talent pool. Candidates reluctant to invest in their own development are easily weeded out so the company can identify those who truly are committed to learning. The recruitment tool also becomes a talent retention indicator.

“Give them the skills and offer professional development, and you can make employees stay longer,” said Scott Dobroski, associate director of corporate communications for Glassdoor.

Dobroski said the biggest fear companies have is that their learning investments won’t pay off — that employees will learn and leave, wasting time, money and production. But he also said the better the development opportunities offered, the stronger candidates companies will attract.

“Everyone understands that everyone has ambitions, and that’s a key component that you have to offer,” Jobcase’s Goff said. “Companies are going to do this and get better employees. Employers who try to cut a corner and save a buck are going to have a less quality labor pool.”